14th September 2018

Wrestler’s ban increased from ten months to two years

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that a ten month ban issued to Russian wrestler Anzor Boltukaev by United World Wrestling (UWW) should be increased to two years, following an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Boltukaev was initially sanctioned with a ten month ban following a positive test for higenamine on 3 May 2017, during the European Championships in Serbia. UWW accepted that it was ‘probable’ that higenamine was ingested through a contaminated product, and reduced his ban from the two years applicable under Article 10.2 of the World Anti-Doping Code for non-intentional use.

In the original UWW decision (PDF below), the athlete’s counsel argued that higenamine can be found in various nutritional supplements without being declared on the label. The athlete argued that he has used nutritional supplements such as RedTest, Assault, Essential Amino Energy, Endurus Runners Serum and Epimedium Macun, and that none of them listed higenamine on the label.

Boltukaev argued that he had relied on his team doctor to use the supplements listed above, and was told that they were safe to use. He also argued that he had relied on the advice of his team doctor when indicating ‘polyvitamins’ on his Doping Control Form, rather than naming each individual supplement he was using. 

The CAS has yet to publish the reasoning behind its decision. Last year, UKAD issued a warning regarding higenamine and seven different ingredient names that are used to refer to it, after a number of athletes tested positive for the substance, which WADA classes as a Beta-2 agonist. The Sports Integrity Initiative’s archives on higenamine reveal that sanctions against athletes who have tested positive for th substance range from a reprimand to a two year ban.

WADA added higenamine to the 2017 Prohibited List after UEFA was forced to drop all charges against Mamadou Sakho following a positive test for higenamine in 2016. It was specifically added to the List because Sakho was able to cast significant doubt on whether higenamine is a Beta-2 agonist at all, and therefore was not covered by the 2016 Prohibited List’s ‘catch-all’ statement that ‘All beta-2 agonists, including all optical isomers, e.g. d- and l- where relevant, are prohibited’. He was also able to argue an absence of significant negligence on his part, as higenamine did not specifically feature on the 2016 List.

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